Reckitt sales beat the forecasts

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Consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser said like-for-like sales grew 5 per cent in the third quarter, underpinned by a strong performance in emerging markets and better trading in North America and Europe.

The growth, ahead of the 4 percent rate in the first half and better than the market expected, sent Reckitt’s shares to the highest level since the group was created by a merger nearly 13 years ago.

Chief executive Rakesh Kapoor said the group had seen an “excellent” performance from emerging markets, and an improved performance in Europe and North America.

“Growth came from all core areas and categories,” he said.

Analysts were expecting sales growth of 4 per cent, according to a consensus quoted by Espirito Santo Investment Bank, with a weak top-line performance in mature markets constraining growth.

But Europe and North America confounded predictions with a return to growth of 2 per cent, against declines of 1 percent in the previous two quarters.

“This looks to have been driven by a good performance in health in the United States, though pricing and performance in laundry (Southern Europe) has also stabilised,” said analysts at the bank.

Deutsche Bank said Reckitt’s strong growth went against the grain of most staple stocks, which are seeing a sales slowdown.

Reckitt, the maker of Finish dishwasher tablets, Nurofen painkillers and Cillit Bang cleaners, said it was well positioned to meet its 2012 goals, with market growth now expected to be at the top end of a 1 to 2 per cent range.